Do We Really Need a Nice Leader?

Who are we comparing the leader of the opposition to when we make attempts to judge what a credible leader should look like?

Perhaps that is the problem with the grid we are using. He is supposed to look or talk a particular way. The historical period we are all part of informs us that fellas who look like leaders, talk like leaders and fit a particular superficial profile do not necessarily qualify as leaders when they have to make choices for “all” of the people they lead. They may offer a particular advantage to those who are near and dear to them through numerous political or social connections, but they do not articulate effective leadership.

The late Lynden Oscar Pindling set the standard in the early years for what leadership should look like, but in his latter terms he failed miserably. It is ironic that in the last great leadership struggle when the current prime minister sought to put down the then leader of the opposition, the moment that Hubert Ingraham compared Perry Christie to Lynden Pindling, every mouth went quiet; and no matter how any of us felt about the first prime minister of this nation, we had to admit that for the time when he led this nation effectively he set the standard for what leadership should look like.

If we look at the track record of Hubert Minnis as minister of health in the Ingraham administration, there is enough evidence to support the conclusion he set the standard as our most effective health administrator to date. I do not know if the current prime minister would want to query this since he also held that office in a former Pindling administration.

However, I will admit that the Bahamian public does have a problem with the way that the FNM administrations go about the business of governance. They do not seem to care how the public feels if there is something that has to be done. They need to use some of the “nice tactics” so adeptly used by the current prime minister.

We do not seem to mind when the job is finished and we are reaping the benefits – like being able to drive from east to west. We are a nice people, but we allow our niceness to get in the way of what we need to be done. Perhaps this is the fear that we have of the good doctor; the fear that he will operate on the problems that we have accepted as normal for too long.  While his opponents want to give us a soothing word or comfort us in our numerous lethargies with all the help that they can muster by way of the public treasury, he is proclaiming another message that some of us do not want to believe – that this Bahamas can fend for itself and Bahamians have enough sense to create ventures that produce a profit.

In a couple of months we are going to experience for ourselves what new business does as investors show up. These persons will not be here at the invitation of the government. There are many groups who see the data stream between the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean as an opportunity. The selling of BTC set the stage for the liberalization of the local communications industry, and also provided a wake-up call for BTC employees because it also set the stage for direct competition between BTC and Cable Bahamas. I can interject right here that I believe BTC’s employees are aware of their situation because I had a problem with my Internet and it was handled quicker than I expected. A BTC technician checked with me twice just to make sure everything was working.

Perhaps Ingraham knew what he was doing, or maybe it was just something he did, but when the ball begins to roll as we reach the summer months we may have to credit our economic good fortune to a man we voted out of office last year.

We all agree that Perry Gladstone Christie is not Hubert Alexander Ingraham or Lynden Oscar Pindling. However, we are having a problem with the other Hubert and we are not having the problem because we think he is nice. The problem we have with him is that he stares us in the face and tells us what he sees. Perhaps, just maybe, we are coming of age in this 40-year period where we will be looking at things as they are and not allowing those who lead to tell us what we want to hear, the things that make us comfortable.

Growth is not without its obstacles and for us to get from where we are to where we know we should be as a nation we are going to have to make choices, hard choices, putting niceness aside.

We may not like the way that some in the media are attempting to present Hubert Alexander Minnis and we will have to make this our problem. We have to look at what he has accomplished and how he has represented the interests of this nation and then make that choice. Ultimately, we the people will pay the bills. We may not get what we pay for but we will pay for whatever it is that we get. And right now we are beyond giving anyone a chance who has not proven that he can lead. I see this as the point of separation between Minnis and all of the other contenders.

By: Edward Hutcheson